Ten organisations account for half of all animal research in Great Britain in 2021

Today, 30 June 2022, Understanding Animal Research (UAR) has published a list of the ten organisations that carry out the highest number of animal procedures – those used in medical, veterinary, and scientific research – in Great Britain. These statistics are freely available on the organisations’ websites as part of their ongoing commitment to transparency and openness around the use of animals in research.

This list coincides with the publication of the Home Office’s report on the statistics of scientific procedures on living animals in Great Britain in 2021.

These ten organisations carried out 1,496,006 procedures, 49% or nearly half of the 3,056,243 procedures carried out on animals for scientific research in Great Britain in 2021*. Of these 1,496,006 procedures, more than 99% were carried out on mice, fish and rats and 83% were classified as causing a similar level of pain, or less, as an injection.

The ten organisations are listed below alongside the total number of procedures they carried out in 2021. Each organisation’s name links to its animal research webpage, which includes more detailed statistics. This is the seventh consecutive year that organisations have come together to publicise their collective statistics and examples of their research.

OrganisationNumber of Procedures (2021)
University of Oxford207,192
University of Cambridge199,203
UCL185,278
The Francis Crick Institute183,363
University of Edinburgh172,100
Medical Research Council169,989
King’s College London111,750
University of Glasgow103,271
University of Manchester87,535
Imperial College London76,325
TOTAL1,496,006

63 organisations have published their 2021 animal research statistics

UAR has also produced a list of 63 organisations in the UK that have publicly shared their 2021 animal research statistics. This includes organisations that carry out and/or fund animal research.

All organisations are committed to the ‘3Rs’ of replacement, reduction and refinement. This means avoiding or replacing the use of animals where possible; minimising the number of animals used per experiment and optimising the experience of the animals to improve animal welfare. However, as institutions expand and conduct more research, the total number of animals used can rise even if fewer animals are used per study.

All organisations listed are signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, a commitment to be more open about the use of animals in scientific, medical and veterinary research in the UK. More than 125 organisations have signed the Concordat including UK universities, medical research charities, research funders, learned societies and commercial research organisations.

Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research, which developed the Concordat on Openness, said:

“Animal research remains a small but vital part of the quest for new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals. We know that the majority of the British public accepts that animals are needed for this research, but it is important that organisations that use animals in research maintain the public’s trust in them. By providing this level of information about the numbers of animals used, and the experience of those animals, as well as details of the medical breakthroughs that derive from this research, these Concordat signatories are helping the public to make up their own minds about how they feel about the use of animals in scientific research in Great Britain.”

Maria Kamper, Director of the Animal Research Unit at The University of Manchester said:

“We are proud to be one of the first UK institutions to embrace openness and transparency about our animal research. A virtual tour, facts, figures, project summaries and case studies, and lots more besides are freely available on our website.

“We are also proud of the high ethical standards with which we carry out our work and the way we care for our animals. Though we are strongly committed to replacing animals wherever possible with alternatives, reducing their numbers and refining the work we do to ever improve their welfare, animals still play a hugely important role in scientific research.

“Our research involving animals helps us understand how biological systems work so we can find ways to treat disease and understand not just human – but also animal health. That is why animal research remains a critical way for scientists to develop of new medicines and cutting-edge medical technologies.”

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) is a not-for-profit organisation that explains how and why animals are used in scientific research in the UK. UAR promotes open communications about animal research. Further information on the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK can be found here

These figures refer to procedures using animals for medical, veterinary, or scientific research, as licensed by the UK’s Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The use of animals to test tobacco products was banned in the UK in 1997 and it has been illegal to use animals to test cosmetic products in this country since 1998. A policy ban on household product testing using animals was introduced in 2010. Since 2013, it has been illegal to sell or import cosmetics anywhere in the UK or the EU where the finished product or its ingredients have been tested on animals.

*The Home Office recorded 3,056,243 completed procedures in 2021, 1,496,006 (49%) of which were carried out at these ten organisations.

Examples of severitySeverity assessments measure the harm experienced by an animal during a procedure. A procedure can be as mild as an injection, or as severe as an organ transplant. Severity assessments reflect the peak severity of the entire procedure and are classified into five different categories:

Sub-threshold: When a procedure did not cause suffering above the threshold for regulation, i.e. it was less than the level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm that is caused by inserting a hypodermic needle according to good veterinary practice.

Non-recovery: When the entire procedure takes place under general anaesthetic and the animal is humanely killed before waking up.

Mild: Any pain or suffering experienced was only slight or transitory and minor so that the animal returns to its normal state within a short period of time. For example, the equivalent of an injection or having a blood sample taken.

Moderate: The procedure caused a significant and easily detectable disturbance to an animal’s normal state, but this was not life threatening. For example, surgery carried out under general anaesthesia followed by painkillers during recovery.

Severe: The procedure caused a major departure from the animal’s usual state of health and well-being. This would usually include long-term disease processes where assistance with normal activities such as feeding and drinking were required, or where significant deficits in behaviours/activities persist. Animals found dead are commonly classified as severe as pre-mortality suffering often cannot be assessed.

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